Theosophical University Press Online Edition
According to Rhys Davids the Great Vehicle assigns (or rather speaks of) five "groups" of worlds which had and will each have a Buddha (see p. 204, Buddhism): "these five Buddhas corresponding to the last four Buddhas, including Gautama and the future Maitreya Buddha — the five Buddhas, that is, who belong to the present Kalpa, the age since the Kosmos was last destroyed." In the Pali and Sanskrit texts Buddha — the title of Gautama — is shown as one of a long series of Buddhas who appear at regular intervals in the world, and who all teach the same system (the secret doctrine). "After the death of each Buddha his religion flourishes for a term and then decays, till at last completely forgotten, and wickedness and violence rule over the earth. Then a new Buddha appears who again preaches the lost Dharma or Truth."
Again the Jains have 24 Buddhas whom they call "Tirtankaras," 21 by groups of three of the seven, and 3 mystical, and some books have Gautama preceded by four, not three Buddhas. This is not contradiction nor inconsistency but ignorance of the secret doctrine. Gautama was the 4th Buddha and the 12th Bodhisatwa of this Yug of our earth. He was the 4th Buddha of the 4th Round. Also the 4th Buddha of the closing 4th Race (between the 4th and the 5th). The fifth or Maitreya Buddha will come after the partial destruction of the 5th and when the 6th Race will be established already for some hundred thousands of years on earth between the utter close of the remnants of the 5th and the 6th, and therefore he is called the fifth Buddha. The 6th will be at the beginning of the 7th Race and the 7th at its end, perhaps half a million of years before its close — when the final ultimate secrets will be revealed.
The teaching that "every earthly mortal Buddha has his pure counterpart in the mystic world, free from the debasing influence of this material life; or rather that the Buddha under material conditions is only an appearance, the reflection, or emanation, or type of Dhyani Buddha . . ." is correct (see p. 204). The number of Dhyani Buddhas or Chohans is infinite, but only five are practically acknowledged in exoteric Buddhism and Seven in esoteric teachings.
Rhys Davids says "that in the 10th century A.D. a new being — this time infinite, self-existent and omniscient — was invented and called Adhi Buddha, the Primordial Buddha." Error. "Addhi-Buddha" is mentioned in the oldest Sanskrit books. It means — primordial Wisdom and is the name for the collective Intelligences of the Bodhisatwas and Buddhas or Dhyan Chohans: — "He is held to have evolved out of himself the five Dhyani Buddhas by the exercise of the five meditations; while each of these evolved out of himself by wisdom and contemplation the corresponding Bodhisatwas, and each of them again evolved out of his immaterial essence a Kosmos, a material world. Our present world is supposed to be the creation of the fourth of these — of Avalokiteswara." (p. 207). Incorrect. 7 Dhyan Chohans are appointed at the beginning of every Round to incarnate as Bodhisatwas — beginning by world A, then B, etc. The first corresponds to the Buddha of the 1st Race and being its protector, incarnates at a needed moment and then becomes a Buddha. The Second becomes a Bodhisatwa at the 2nd Race and does the same on every planet. The third etc., reappearing each seven times. Thus:
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